Dem Primaries in Oregon House Seats Could Reveal Party Balance Between Progressives and Establishment

Two Democratic primaries for House seats in Oregon's 3rd and 5th districts could provide insight into the party's balance between progressive and establishment factions ahead of the critical 2024 presidential election. The state's 3rd District, which includes Portland, will have its first open Democratic primary since 1996 with the retirement of Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Candidates Maxine Dexter and Susheela Jayapal, who have similar platforms, are leading in fundraising. Jayapal is the sister of Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington state progressive congressional leader.

In the 5th District, which spans metro Portland and rural areas, congressional Democrats are backing Janelle Bynum, who they see as more electable than progressive Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who ousted the long-holding moderate Democratic incumbent in the 2022 primary. However, a late flood of spending from a political action committee supporting McLeod-Skinner has raised questions about Republican interference. Key Democrats have endorsed Bynum, including Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek and three of the state's U.S. representatives. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named Bynum to its "Red to Blue" program, which provides support to Democrats seeking to flip GOP districts.

Both leading candidates in each primary share similar policy platforms, so voters may choose based on style and perceived electability, emphasizing either bold progressivism or pragmatism and the ability to achieve results. The primaries could reveal whether Democratic voters are leaning more toward progressive or establishment factions as the party prepares for the 2024 election.

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